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Alumni Reunion: Dennis Polonich

Former enforcer played for the Red Wings from 1974-83

Thursday, 01.28.2010 / 1:42 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Alumni Reunion: Dennis Polonich
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Dennis Polonich was a huge fan-favorite in his eight NHL seasons with the Red Wings. A veteran of more than 80 NHL fights, he never backed down from anyway. Always well-respected and liked by teammates, Polonich was named Wings' captain by then-coach Larry Wilson in 1976-77.

Do you keep in touch with any of your former Red Wings teammates? If so, who?
Dennis Hextall is my most common contact, and others are Reed Larson, Paul Woods, because I’m still in the hockey industry and I run into a lot of the guys in the various rinks.

Which of the current Red Wings is your favorite? And why?
Steve Yzerman, he’s no longer playing, but the way he conducted himself, and the class act that he was. And probably Chris Osgood, he’s a bit of a friend of mine, an acquaintance that I’ve known through the years.

What was your favorite memory as a Red Wing?

Probably just being there, stepping on the Olympia ice. I wanted to play one game in the NHL, that’s all I ever dreamed about, so just the fact of being there, pulling on a Red Wings sweater, and then of course when I was named captain. You don’t realize it until later, what an impact it had, how many guys get to be captain of an Original Six team?

Which of the guys you played with was the toughest?
Probably Dan Maloney and (Bryan) Bugsy Watson. Dennis Hextall, Nick Libett, Terry Harper, I played a couple years with Gary Bergman, but I’d have to say Dan Maloney and Bugsy Watson.

Who was the funniest?
Oh boy, I think Walt McKechnie was good, and Bryan Watson was a real prankster. I’m sure that they got me over the years, but I was pretty good at dishing it out myself. I remember one incident: I had Dennis Hextall and Terry Harper, who were huge outdoorsmen, they were hunters, so I bought three duck calls and spread them around the team, and we just drove them crazy in the various hotels and airports with these duck calls.

Who had the biggest heart?
I’d probably say Paul Woods was a heart-and-soul guy. Terry Harper, Dan Maloney played with huge hearts, and of course Bugsy Watson was unbelievable for a smallish type defenseman; the way he played, he had a huge heart. … Mickey Redmond was a true Red Wing and a guy that I looked up to.

What was your favorite restaurant in metro Detroit?

Joe Muer’s seafood was great, and on a lower scale there was Joe’s Bar, I think it was on Northwestern and Lodge. They had great burgers and we became friends with the owner. But Joe Muer’s seafood and Chuck Joseph’s steakhouse.

How has the NHL changed since you played?
Business, it’s all business now. You see the advertising all over the rink, the advertising on the ice, the advertising on the boards, the salaries and stuff, the salaries that the players make, the endorsement deals. It’s big business now.

Toughest team (other than the Red Wings) when you played?
The Philadelphia Flyers, the Broad Street Bullies, they had some tough individuals, but when they were together, they became like a pack of wolves really. I used to get under their skin, I always played well against them because I was alert.

What do you love most about the game?
Just the camaraderie, the joking and the kibitzing, and I love to compete. I love golf, that soothes my appetite for the competitiveness, but I just like being around the guys. When you do it all your life, that’s the only thing you know.

Who had the greatest influence on your career?

Probably my junior coach, who’s passed on now. Paddy Ginnell, who coached Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach, in Flin Flon, Manitoba, when I went to play junior. And after that, probably Doug Barkley, who was my first pro coach, and between the two of them, they molded the way I played.

What advice would you give to kids playing today?

Just to work hard. I’m a player agent, I mentor a lot of kids, and when I ask young kids what they need, what’s the biggest skill they need to succeed, a lot of them say shooting, passing, skating, and I always tell them that they need good work habits. If you have good work habits and you’re respectful, you’re going to succeed in life.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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